Boston Celtics Offseason Recap

Photo: Fox Sports

After a summer filled with an exciting free-agency, anticipated draft, and victorious preseason, the 2016 Boston Celtics season is officially one week away. The Celtics host the Knicks at TD Garden on Wednesday night and will look to improve their preseason record to an impressive 6–1.

Below is a timeline recapping everything you need to know about the Celtics stimulating offseason.

  • April 28th — The Celtics lose to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
  • June 19th — The Cleveland Cavaliers win the NBA Championship.
  • June 23rd (Draft night) — The Celtics select SF Jaylen Brown (Cal) with the third overall pick in the draft (from Brooklyn). The Celtics also draft PF Guerschon Yabusele, C Ante Zizic, PG Demetrius Jackson, PF Ben Bentil, PF Abdel Nadar.
  • July 7th — The C’s pick up PF Amir Johnson’s “player-option” at $12 million. In a Celtics Summer League game, Terry Rozier hits a buzzer beating, game-winning three to beat the San Antonio Spurs.
  • July 9th — The Celtics sign Al Horford to a 4 year, $113 million contract. Horford signs the largest free-agent contract in Boston Celtics history.
  • July 13th — The Celtics lose their final Summer League game (Cavs 98- C’s 94)
  • July 23rd — The Celtics sign Gerald Green to a one-year, $1.4 million contract. The C’s also resign Tyler Zeller to a two-year, $16 million contract (the second year is a team option).
  • September 19th — It is reported Kelly Olynyk is recovering from shoulder surgery and could miss regular season time.

Key additions- Al Horford, Gerald Green, Jaylen Brown (draft)

Key losses- Evan Turner (Portland), Jared Sullinger (Toronto)

Recap:

After an early postseason exit in late April, GM Danny Ainge knew he had to improve his team. Step one? The draft. Rumors circulated like crazy — the Celtics were going to trade for Bulls star Jimmy Butler. The asking price was Brooklyn’s third overall pick (owned by Boston from the KG, Paul Pierce deal), the Maverick’s sixteenth overall pick (owned by Boston), and either Jae Crowder or Avery Bradley (some reports said BOTH). Wisely, Ainge elected to go a different route. At a TD Garden viewing party, the longing Garden faithful showered the bannered rafters with a flurry of boos as Adam Silver announced the third pick in the draft — Jaylen Brown. At the time, Celtics fans were right to boo…sort of. Everyone expected Boston to draft Providence point guard Kris Dunn (Chicago wanted Dunn), and when they didn’t, the world imploded. Upset, angry, and disappointed, confused Celtics fans reacted the worst way possible — boos.

The Celtics also passed on Michigan State PF Deyonta Davis, who was another “fan favorite” heading into draft night. Instead, Ainge took two international big men (Yabusele, Zizic) with the Celtics final two first-round selections. This was a wise move by Ainge as a crowded Celtics’ roster could not fit the eight draft picks owned by Boston. Currently, both Yabusele and Zizic are playing overseas and will likely fight for a roster spot next season.

Demetrius Jackson was a projected first-round draft pick on every “expert’s” board — the Celtics snatched him with the 45th pick. While the guard-heavy Celtics roster may limit Jackson’s minutes, Ainge may have found a future reliable backup point guard in Jackson.

A few weeks after the draft night excitement (or for some the lack thereof), it was time for the craziest free-agency in NBA history. With names like Kevin Durant (this is an appropriate time to boo, Celtics fans), Al Horford, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, and Hassan Whiteside on the market, the NBA was bound for a dramatic shift…but not this dramatic. Durant was scheduled to meet with six teams, three of which had a legit chance to sign him. Durant had his choice — he could resign with his improved Thunder squad, create his own legacy in Boston, or become the NBA’s greatest villain and join the Golden State Warriors. Despite bringing TOM F’ING BRADY to the Celtics meeting in the Hamptons, Durant chose to join the Warriors — crushing millions of Celtics fans dreams while doing so. (Durant and the Warriors will play in TD Garden on November 18th).

Despite missing out on the Durant sweepstakes, the Celtics did manage to land a big name free-agent. Former Atlanta Hawk Al Horford decided Boston was the place he wanted to play. He spoke very highly of the Boston fanbase to his father shortly after signing:

“There wasn’t much motivation for him when he saw all the empty seats when [Atlanta] were winning. He said to me, ‘Dad, when we were playing Boston, they were down 15 points and they were cheering their team like they were winning the game. They’re so into the game.’ He always had a good feeling about Boston.”

Horford is the largest free-agent to ever chose Boston and is already encouraging Celtics fans with a productive preseason.

After a wild free-agency that saw the landscape of the NBA shift dramatically (Dwyane Wade is now a Bull?!), it was time for the Celtics young core to shine in the NBA Summer League. The Celtics began their Summer League expedition with three straight wins in Utah. Terry Rozier average 19 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5 assists over that span and shot an impressive 46.2% from the field. While the Celtics did not continue their success when they ventured on the Vegas (they finished 1–4), Rozier did. In the two games he played, Rozier shot an incredible 62% while maintaining a 21 point average. Rozier will certainly help this Celtics team as the departure of Evan Turner leaves Brad Stevens and company in need of a guard who can come off the bench and score.

Jaylen Brown’s (boooo?) athleticism has been evident since day one. Despite being only 19 years old, Brown can defend at a productive level and finish around the rim. His shooting is unpredictable, but his drive to succeed will propel Brown into stardom. Brown has averaged just under 10 points this preseason and will certainly see big-time minutes early in his young career.

After training camp started on September 27th, the Celtics opened preseason play on October 4th against the 76ers. Although they dropped their preseason opener, the C’s have impressed in the preseason — boasting a 5–1 record. Isaiah Thomas has averaged 12.4 ppg, and Avery Bradley has picked up where he left off last season, averaging 10.8 ppg. The bench, lead by Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and Gerald Green, have played at an impressive level as well. The Celtics bench will determine just how good this young team can be.

The Boston roster will carry 15 players this season. The locks are listed below:

PG: Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart

SG: Avery Bradley, Gerald Green

SF: Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, Jonas Jerebko

PF: Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Mickey

C: Al Horford, Tyler Zeller

There are 13 players listed above. That leaves two roster spots open for three players — R.J. Hunter, James Young, and Demetrius Jackson.

The Celtics signed Demetrius Jackson to a guaranteed contract worth $1.38 million annually. Because of this and his upside potential, expect for Jackson to make the roster.

That leaves one spot open for either Hunter or Young. Hunter, a second-year player out of Georgia State, is the clear front runner after scoring 17 points Saturday night against the Knicks. Young has not developed how the Celtics had hoped and it is time to say goodbye to the lazy 21 year old.

The expectations for this young team are high. After a progressive year last season, Brad Stevens will look to maximize his team to the fullest and, hopefully, give Cleveland a run for their money in the East. The Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title and an Eastern Conference Championship may satisfy an itching Boston fan base.